Updated: Sep 17, 2022
It was my pleasure to be a guest on Greg Denning's Be The Man podcast, where we explored the concept of a "culture stack", the idea that every society is built on moral, political, economic, and cultural layers that interplay and change over time - and are changing as we speak.
We also covered:
America's first founding: Classical Liberalism
America's second founding: Progressivism
America's third founding: Identity Marxism (happening now)
What Aristotle got right 2,300 years ago and what he got wrong guided the U.S. founders and can guide us today.
How the "pursuit of happiness" made famous in the Declaration of Independence isn't some subjective, ethereal concept, but is actually a specific recipe for individual and societal prosperity and success.
What we can learn from Dr. Strange about not repeating history's mistakes
The problem of power - that we never seem to learn
How The Great Conversation is an antidote to ignorant opinions and echo chambers
Racism and sexism in our day - same words, different dictionaries
How the definition of "equality" has changed over time
Citizens of the west are reliving the story of Damocles, blissfully unfamiliar with what it takes to perpetuate the prosperity and freedoms we inherited
Catch the recording here:
Other content referenced in this episode:
Show Transcript (Raw):
Gentlemen, welcome to the be the man podcast. I'm your host, Greg Denning. Gary and I are friends from longtime back. And the first time we met was in the wilderness, we're the back country of Yosemite. And then since then we've had a lot of great conversations, great interactions. And whenever we get together, it's usually in the wilderness clicks I love, like my memories of Gary are either around books and great discussions or in the wilderness, or both. And we just had one recently we were, we're back in the wilderness in Zions and he and I were hiking out of this big Canyon. And we're just talking philosophy and books in life. And it was awesome. So like, and I've got to have him on the show. So Gary, Welcome, brother. And, and, you know, introduce yourself, give a background and then let's dive in, like you have this this mission and this message you want to share. And I want you to share that with our audience here.
Thanks, Greg. And thanks for having me. I grew up in Southern California, I'm a husband, I'm a father, I'm a disciple. I'm an educator. And I'm an armchair or amateur student, a student, you know, a student of trying to understand this world that we live in, trying to understand the pursuit of a human happiness and prosperity transition, what what is what is the formula for the best, you know, that we can experience as human beings, trying to understand that from a philosophical perspective, from a practical perspective. And so that's kind of what has led me into a personal journey that led me to read the books that led me to have conversations with you. And that's kind of how I got into it. But I started out as an IT professional, that's, that was my professional background in college. And then I discovered when my oldest child was like five or six, that there was this whole world, besides just technical knowledge of how Western civilization came to be and how it has done more to, and poverty and slavery and illiteracy, and all these things. Like, I never learned about that. I mean, I did get one little piece of, you know, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, one little tiny section in high school. You know, that was it. And so, since then, I've been on that that was, you know, 20 plus years ago, since that I'm just trying to understand that the formula for human success and prosperity and happiness,
well, what's made you different? Because I think we all have little bit exposure here and there, and you think, Oh, that's interesting. Or I'd like to learn about that someday. What What made you different? What, because I know you're, you're one of the most well read people I know, you'd love to read and study and thinking and talk about this stuff. What's the difference? Why, why did you chase it? Why are you still chasing it? Because you know, I, you have a career you have a family? Like you're a busy guy? What, what makes a difference?
You know, I think we're all we can all feel driven to something I feel driven to this besides being out in the wilderness. You know, I feel driven towards this when I'm not doing work or family or wilderness. i This is what I do is what I feel, I feel called to it, I guess in a sense, I don't know where it will lead. But I feel driven to understand and explore this thing called human happiness and, and nerve and flourishing human flourishing. Because I feel like there are competing philosophies out there, some that have very, that make big promises and haven't delivered, but they're very enticing. And so how do we steer our, our children my children are what got me into this my oldest was struggling in school in first grade. And so I tried wanted to understand why because I didn't really have a great K 12 experience myself, I struggled to and like I want to have him have a better experience than I did. And so that led us to exploring lots of different educational venues, I jumped out of the IT world started my own school, whole story there. I went and joined another, you know, University where I got a master's degree and now working for third school. So I've tried to be I've been in education now for nearly 20 years, trying to provide a different kind of education that I hope will answer some of these questions and provide some of these insights to young people in their younger years, that I don't feel that I got when I was when I was in school.
Now not even close. In fact, it was after university that I finally got exposed. I'm like, This is what's possible. This is what's available. Why is this not being taught? Yes, exactly. And they and again, it takes it's a lifetime. I I know you're a voracious reader. I still average a book a week and now for over two decades. And I'm still I feel like I'm just I think I'm getting to the base maybe a foundation of the beginning of an education. Yes. After all these years. Yes. Still like oh, there's so much I don't know. But let's let's dive in. We'll share pre recording here. I asked him like your what's, what's the mission? What's the message? Share that with us? And then let's dive into those fundamentals and those conflicting philosophies that we're seeing that you're so right like on the surface, they look so good, they feel so good, and I think even have short term results. But long term outcomes are catastrophic.
So I started a blog and a podcast a few years ago, a couple of years ago called culture stack. And the reason I came up with that name is I'm from a technology background, is this this technology stack? Is the ideas like what's in your server? What hardware are you running? what operating system you're running on that? What applications are you running on top of that, you know, it's like, there's this stack. And I realized that culture that our society has a stack as well, every every society has a stack, and you can look at that stack. And you can tell where it's going to go. Or you can, you can look at each part of the stack. So for example, every, every society has a starts out with a moral foundation you can't get away with it doesn't have to be deistic. It can be non deistic. But you have prophets, poets, or philosophers who espouse a certain moral ethic or tradition, again, doesn't have to be deistic. You know, Marx was not deistic, he did not, but he is a he's a philosopher, and in many ways, a poet and a prophet. So you know, Moses, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, you have all these individuals who espouse a certain this is the way the world is supposed to be. This is if there's a heaven and earth, this is how they relate, you know, the good and bad, right and wrong, the shoulds of life as the moral foundation in every society, you can go back and drill down into that. And resting on top of that is a political layer. So you've got moral and political and political is founded by statesmen, who are people who take who read those philosophers, those poets, those prophets and say, We need to formalize that morality into a legal system to help perpetuate that helped make that thing happen. So for example, you see on the Supreme Court of the United States, you've got Moses up there with his tablets. That's a really good example of how, like the US founders, they took the Judeo Christian, great Greek Greco Roman tradition, and built a political layer on top of it. So the US founders would be examples of, of a statesman, Stalin, Lenin would be statesman on top of a Marxist layer, for example. They took what he wrote and built nations around it and and political systems and legal systems. So Paulette, politicians work within that system, the states and the one who create them. So you've got the moral you've got,
just to emphasize here it can be, it can go either way. It can go really, or it can go, right, yeah. Yeah. Still, though, regardless,
exactly. The layers are there. And they do they go really good, or really bad, usually really bad. That seems like in history, but you can always break them down, and you can go and inspect them. On top of that, you've got the economic layer, what is the economic engine? What is the economic philosophy? So capitalism, for example, for example, you've got Adam Smith, for example, that is built on top of, or influenced by the moral and political layers underneath it. So under the capitalism, under an American full stack is gonna look different than capitalism under a communist China stack, because they have capitalism over there, too. But you'll often hear people conflating you know, we need to get rid of capitalism, or capitalism causes all these problems that they're they're conflating what's happening at the economic layer with what's really going on at the their, their, their, their beef is really probably with what's going on underneath.
Yes, yeah. Huge. And then if you and you love talking about this, unless you have an adequate educational background, you really, it's hard to even start having those really strong opinions because you're missing the big picture of it all.
And you're hacking at the leaves and the limbs and so the roots of the problem so on top of the sea, got the moral the political than the economic on top of the of the social, cultural, out of families operate, how do we take care of the elderly and the poor? How do we take take care of invalids in the in the sick? What does education look like? But they're all informed by that stack? And, you know, one of the one of my concerns is that we have, in my opinion, well, I believe what's happening in the United States, for example, I know you have international listeners, and they can compare how this is happening and they're going to be interested in your opinion about you've seen, what are the stacks you've seen in other countries as you've gone around the world have conversations We have been shifting our moral layer, we have been swapping it out from what it was. And it's actually not the first swap we, we swapped it out about 100 years in, and then we're swapping it out again, we're changing it. And the the so they're almost like tectonic plates where when they shift, they cause earthquakes. And so as what we're seeing in our society is, as the moral layer shifts, the political layer on top has to shift as well. But it's not a smooth, easy process. It's quite, there's a lot of conflict and a lot of back and forth and a lot of anger, often as different voices battle and compete for what should the moral layer be. And so as as we have shifted our moral layer, I'd say, roughly, this is now the second time we've shifted it since the moral fence since the beginning of our country. And you could argue that there's smaller ones in there. But largely, this is the second I would say that that political layer has to shift. And sometimes it's even led out by the social layer will have already shaped like the social layer shifting, it's it's there is a there's a symbiotic relationship between all of these, it's not like one drives the other always know that the social, really the people who are living right now, they're going to shift, they're gonna be the ones it's like, it's like a circle where the ones who are on the living right now they can shift the moral layer, they can determine what the moral layer will be, for generations to come. So we started out with a classic liberal, and many, many listeners that may not be familiar with liberalism is it's shifted, that word has shifted in the last, you know, 200 years, but classic liberalism, you know, free speech, individual rights, all of those things, is what the United States was founded upon. That's shifted about 100 years ago to progressivism or progressive liberalism, which which has some additional tenants, we could get into it. And now we're looking at a radical individualism or race Marxism, or there's a number of different ways to put it. Our identity Marxism, I believe, is the is what we're shifting to now.
That's the moral layer that we're shifting to. And you're starting to see
there and give us a definition of those three things. Because this came up in our conversation a few months ago, and I want listeners to like just just get a little bit of a grasp on those three things and the shift and kind of what that what what the implications are. Yeah, you bet. I think those those, what we call those micro layers or levels, I don't know. But those layers are super significant. And how that changes happen.
Yeah, I would call each one of them almost thoroughness religions, really, they are philosophies, their philosophies, and people worship them. And the, like, fanatics. And you're right, they get this religious zeal around these ideologies. These get so hot, so fired up, and it's so hard to even engage in debate sometimes.
Yes, and that's, that's actually the key to classical classical liberalism was to try to solve that problem. Because one thing that people don't I think a lot of people don't realize is that everyone has a religion. You don't have to have a god, but you are going to have a religion we are as human beings, we have to have a religious software running our system. It's our way of looking at the world of what is right and what is wrong, what your how I should spend my time how you should be spending your time whether I can take your stuff or not, and redistribute it as all of those are driven by your moral software. And I'm not talking about any particular religion, it's like that we that is how we run we, we determined as human beings what is right and what is wrong, we might get it from somewhere else. We might make our own version of it, but we all have a religion. Everyone has a religion and all legislation is the legislation of morality. People say you can't legislate morality. It's like no actually law. That's all it is. Law is the legislature it is me it is codifying moral standards. That's what it is. Don't cheat, don't you know, break your contracts don't kill people. Those are moral statements codified into law. So one Pete, like religious, you know, traditionally religious people deistic religious people are often criticized for trying to incorporate their religion into the political spheres. Like, that's actually what everyone does. Everyone is trying to have law recreated in their own image, you know, the image of their religion, whatever that religion happens to be. So, classic liberalism was possibly the first I mean, the Moors did a really good job of this. I think they did a good job of a pluralism as well, hundreds of years ago, but the idea of classic liberalism is, you know, this idea of trying to establish a utopia you don't try to take a a utopian ideal that religions often give us whether it's deistic or not, you know, Marx had Marx and Hegel, they had a utopian ideal. Even today, the identity the identity Marxists have a utopian ideal, that we're not I couldn't achieve that here on Earth, we have to have a way to talk to each other we have to have a way that people of differing religions whether they're deistic or not can talk to each other and work together. And classic liberalism is that system it's not it's not aiming at an ideal other than let's not kill each other in and we have to learn to work together to live together that's basically the the idea of classic liberalism now, in my in my readings, it actually springs out of Christianity is where that that tolerance like you go read a letter concerning toleration by a lock, for example, he's he espouses that ideas like yes, I believe in Christianity, but you cannot force it on people, you have to work with them, you have to listen to them. And this is where we get all these ideas of free speech, of freedom of assembly. You know, the the right to do the to debate that the necessity of debate is all bound up in this idea of classical liberalism and Liber. Labor library liberal, that word comes it's in a liberal arts, it's the arts of freedom. So how do we how do we maintain freedom from those who would impose their religious standard upon us how do we live and work together without fear of of that oppression happening to us?
So just because they know how much you and I love books, the fact that Libra which is book in Spanish, and liberty, library, like and library, it's so tied to freedom. And I know books have totally transform your life. And they've completely transformed mine. And brought literally brought freedom since so many ways. So I just a little, a little bit of etymology there is just that just that.
Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Yeah. And I'd love to dive into these once we give those definitions. But basically, the idea behind classical classical liberalism is we're not going to achieve the utopia. You know, Christianity says the utopias in the next life, don't try to achieve it here necessarily. How do we work together? So you've got individual rights we could talk about where those come from human rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, self defense, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, all of those kinds of ideas, are bound up in classical liberalism, and that the only point of government and this is where Locke again comes in, you know, he wrote his Second Treatise on government. You gotta go read the first treatise, though, you know, but the Second Treatise on government, you know, he did talk about the only purpose of government can be the only legitimate purpose. And we can talk about how we can dive into this one too, because it's so essential, is to protect life, liberty, and property, that's the only thing that it can do. And that's because that's the only thing that you can tell it, you can't you can only delegate that that's a right that you have, you have a right God given in his estimation, to defend yourself, and to defend your loved ones from those who would take your life or that which you've used your life to create your property. And that's the only thing you can delegate, you can't delegate anything else you can't. And so that's all the government is for. And that's what that's basically how America started was with that idea. That's all the government's for, we the people do everything else, through through voluntary cooperation through consensus. You know, Alexei de Tocqueville, if you read Democracy in America, fantastic book, one of the things that he remarks on when he came over here, he's like, man, these guys get together for everything. If they there's a problem. They're like a swarm of bees or ants or like, you know, they go they go solve the problem, they form an association or a society of some sort. And they're always just doing that freely, combining together consensually of their own freewill to solve society's problems now, but we could get into that farther to it's like, that's how you solve problems. So we the people form a government to protect life, liberty property, and then we the people get together to do everything else. In voluntary association. That's basically the idea of classical liberalism. Constitutional conservatism, is that basic idea. 100 years later, you had people like Roosevelt, Wilson, and others, who said, you know, there are so many problems in society. There. There's poor, there's poverty, there's illiteracy, there's inequality. There's illness, there's homelessness, we've got to solve these problems and look at this powerful machine. It's just sitting there not being used called government. Why don't we use that? Let's harness that thing. And, you know, tax but then go and solve all of society's problems. And so that was progressivism. And that's where you see in the last 100 years of America this enormous burgeoning administrative state that tries to solve society's problems and remove Those that responsibility largely or to, you know, to some degree from the individual from associating with one another and says, we're going to do it, we're going to take care of that we're going to, we're going to organize the Kino came from, you know, pressure, they, they, they, they looked at what they love the the how organized, they were over there been a governmental sense. He said, Let's borrow that. And let's organize it at that level and solve society's problems. That was that was the second 100 years of America
example. And we can dive into this later. That's a perfect example of on the outset. Man, that looks so good. It sounds so good. And like liquid can do or liquid it's doing. But I think you even mentioned it just in passing, that ultimately that takes away the responsibility and power of the individuals and gathering together on a voluntary basis. Yeah, ultimately, will be a disaster.
Yeah, it violates it's only until you read Aristotle and the Federalist Papers, that you can see the the chinks in the armor of progressivism, you know, what, how could that possibly go wrong? How could that possibly be bad? Because we do we all want to feed the feed the hungry and clothe the naked and heal the sick and, you know, educate the ignorant and, you know, free the captives, we want to do those things, how could that possibly be wrong? And it's like, you know, if you want to pull up Google Maps to get you somewhere, you know, several hours away, there's all there's one right way to get there, there's one best way to get there. And there's 1000s of ways to go wrong, you can make a wrong turn on that road, in, in innumerable ways. And that's the that's the path of the path. If human happiness and flourishing is that destination, it has that same problem. It has the same conundrum where that road looks better, but it doesn't actually take you where you think it's gonna take you. And so that's why you have to read have to read it because it's, here's the here's the my favorite analogy for it in. In the Marvel movies. You had Dr. Strange towards the end of that whole series of movies and for those who have watched them, and Dr. Strange got this thing called a time stone. And they had this villain called Fanus, who, who killed half of the life in the universe? And then like, how do we defeat him and bring back those people. So he had the Time Stone, he had several the stones as well. And he what he did is he went through and he iterated using this time. So he would go, he would go back and start again back and start again, like millions of times like in his mind, or he would go, he would just go back and try to find what is the path to defeat this enemy. And he realized there's only one way to do it. And like he couldn't even tell the other superheroes what that way was, was until the moment that they could use it. That's kind of how the path to human flourishing is, is there's so many ways to get it wrong. And but they've been tried, they've been tried. And so again, again and again and again. Yes. And so we can go back. And we can go to the doctor strange and say, you know, the the 1000s and the 3000s and the 4 million at the time that you tried it, we're going to try those again. It's like, No, he didn't do that. He tried it, it didn't work. He moved on to the next one moving on the next one. And we because we don't read these books, which document the sad, often sad tales of what happened when it didn't go right, you know that you could make a movie about each one of the million things that he tried, right? All the different variations that didn't work and how they ended sadly, they only made a movie about the one the one that worked. But there were another there were a million other movies that could have been made. And there they have been made in terms of the story of human flourishing and happiness, because you can go and see the wreckage in the history books
and societies, and it's all there. And that's one thing that kind of boggles my mind is, is what people in our generation, they think they're the first ones to think of it, you come up with this new idea of like, no, he was trying to sort of work. Like, that's my response. He says, Have you read like, that was tried before? And it did not work at all? Yeah, but you're right, you have to understand what he's challenging. That's a lot of books to read. And that's a lot of history to cover, to see all the ways it didn't work.
Yeah, and I'm not even saying that the founders nailed it. But you know, one of my favorite things about Aristotle his so not his first book, but the it's kind of a one two punch from Aristotle one is ethics, which which is basically the store we can dive into ethics so that'd be really fun. But it's basically the the question of how do we achieve human happiness, which he describes as the greatest good that's that is the thing that we should all that we're that we are all it's not that we should be seeking. It's what we all do seek is happiness. And second, but or the next book politics, then tries to describe what kind of government you have to set up to enable that to best make that what we do. And when you start reading politics, he does exactly what what Dr. Strain He's dead. He's catalogues. All of the he goes through the history books, and he says, this form didn't work. This form didn't work monarchy that's obsolete in 303 50 BC, he said Monaco didn't work. And we still monarchies. Today, we didn't listen to Aristotle, you know, he's like, that's obsolete here, we are still running that software, were still running the monarchy software, even though he recognized you know, 2300 years ago, that it's that it doesn't work. We don't want to listen, and that we could talk about why we don't want to listen, why do we not want to listen to those to those those tales. So he, he did he went and tried to learn the lessons from it and tried another iteration you there, he was Dr. Strange in his generation, learning, looking at the past iterations and saying, Okay, I'm gonna tweak it this way and tweak it this way and tweak this way. The founding generation 2000 years later, had 2000 years worth of history to look at other societies and civilizations trying out their Doctor Strange iterations, and seeing what didn't work and had the benefit of people like Montesquieu, who came along that Aristotle didn't have the benefit of Montesquieu, or Locke, or, or Smith or any or Aquinas or any of these others. And so they built, they did, they built the next iteration. And, you know, if we're going to follow, you know, the wisdom of Dr. Strange of not trying something that was tried before and didn't work, you have to know what iterations have been tried, you have to understand, or you're going to tweak it in a way that just takes you back down a path that is already known. Federalist Papers are fantastic for that, because they say, you've got to do it this way, you can't do it that week. Here's the problem with that, if you try to go laughing at that turn, it's going to take you down this road if you try and, and gosh, if we would just read those, even at the high school level. Because they're every single one of these models, they're really software trying to run on the hardware of a human nature. That's really what they are. And so we've all we've all been trying to figure out human nature for all these 1000s of years, and trying different software running on that platform and see which one runs the best or which one crashes and which one does the most damage when it crashes. So there we need to, it's almost like, you know, I grew up in the era where with like WordPerfect, or Microsoft Word, you know, 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0, they would, they would just keep iterating. And you can go back and look and see what university you're on. Now, they don't make a big deal of it. Now, they used to make a really big downer version 10. And then it kind of lost their, you know, forever for publishing which version they're on. But it's almost like being on 10. And going back to six who wants to do that you lose all this functionality, you know, you're going back in time. So that's that's my question for anyone who wants to make changes to societies like What have you done to do the doc Have you done the Doctor Strange thing where you've looked at what's been tried? Use see that again.
What's interesting is this comes up often in our in our conversations, and other people or even even online, is will share something and this happened last week, my wife shared this, this idea of like, Hey, we should be reading the classics. And she got a response one day is like, what can we possibly learn from old books? That was the legitimate response. And I can see the reasoning of like, Wait, if we have version 10? Why would we go back to version six. And you can see like, what old books have to teach us like, we're the most advanced, but I think the lesson here is your advanced this might just be a repetition of something that's already proven not to work. So you know, circling back and one of the benefits of circling back is seeing what didn't work.
You know, I was listening to Brett Weinstein, Dr. Weinstein on podcast he did yesterday. He's an evolutionary biologist who had a fascinating story of being kicked out basically by the students of Evergreen State College I think in Washington state where they went super woke and he being a he's he calls himself a radical progressive, but he wasn't radical enough for them. Fascinating story. Well, let's see what was I gonna say what he said, Oh, that the prob the reason why the versions issue doesn't work with humans is what we've learned is that our our hardware wants to go awry. Our hardware our nature wants to go awry. It wants there's there's part of us that wants happiness in the right way. And there's part of us that wants happiness in the wrong way. And so these different iterations, these different dr. strange iterations, a 1.0 2.0 3.0 is realizing oh, you have some inclinations, human beings who you homosapien have some inclinations within you that are actually anti happiness, antisocial that you're born with, but that you have to guard against. So for example, we have an inclination to find the easiest path to wherever we want to go. I saw this when I was at university, they had a big quad and we had buildings around this big lawn and did people take the they took the most direct path they took the diaganol while they were out the lawn and then the administration got all frustrated. Like why are you waiting? Get the diagonal path to get the kiddy corners like, why don't want to take the long way where I have to then make a left turn, like I want to take the shortest path that is actually good because it drives us to is a good side because it drives us to find easier, faster, more efficient ways to do things. But there's a downside to it where we will like if I can go just take something if I can take the lollipop from my sister, or I can take the cash from my neighbor, or if I can, you know if I can get it in unscrupulous ways, quote, unquote, unscrupulous whatever that means that's going to the moral layer, right? Who decides what's unscrupulous? Then you know, might makes right, that's certainly a way it's certainly a moral layer, there's, you can certainly build a political layer on top of that, that theology that I am the king, therefore what I say goes, and you all pay homage to Me, and My happiness is what actually matters. And look, we're achieving it at the expense of all of you, you know, that that is there is you know, those totalitarian authoritarian, dictatorial it's like what Viktor Frankl said, who said, you know, Man's Search for Meaning he was the one in the in the concentration camps, he said, the line dividing good and evil runs through every human heart. Yeah, that's, that's the human nature problem. And so that's why you that's why you have to study the prior versions. You don't have to study the prior versions of Google Chrome and Microsoft Word. It's like, man, no, you don't need to do that. But you do have human nature because every child that is born, has that same heart, the hardware hasn't changed. We're just trying to find the best software. We're to guard. Mold sculpt us as human beings to maximize our happiness. So that's why that's why the the versioning part that's why you have to read all the books.
I love this. Okay, there's so much energy but I want to finish the definition so define for us that individualism you think we've we've moved into and then I want to dive in yet to ethics, Aristotle, all kinds of stuff.
Yeah, this one's a little more difficult because there's lots of in this religion, there's lots of denominations which you can say is true of really any religion you know, Christianity, for example, is 45,000 denominations in the world. Some of them are actually murderous, some of them are suicidal, you know, some of them go and do terrible things and protest things they shouldn't protest you know, it's so you have to be careful there is no such thing as a Mont there is no monolithic in these religions. And the same is true of this identitarian ism this radical identitarian ism and then might be most easily based basically the idea Well, again, there's there's so many different denominations that they they play almost chameleon with your again, if we could use the Marvel analogies, Loki he can like disappear and appear. He can and so anytime you go to grasp that one, they'll say that's not it. It's this one over here. Because they all have slightly different, but they spring from you got Kant, Hegel, Marx, Gramsci, Bell, like, down there's, there's all these different philosophers who build on one another, to build different versions of it. But they all they all trace back to this hit Galeon concept of the utopia is possible. That there's there is the that is possible here on Earth, if we can, that it actually exists, there's actually this beautiful thing, this beautiful society that exists, but it's like held in chains. If we can just peel back the chains of the onion, then the beauty of perfect society will reveal itself. And so there's this idea of the dialectic that you just you look at what's wrong with society, and say, how do we get rid of what's wrong with society is that that's how you peel the onion. It's this thing called the dialectic. And so all these different versions, they they're actually added to it at odds with each other and that they're saying, that's what's wrong with that versus you know, Gramsci did this with Marx. He said Marx focused on the wrong thing he should have been focused on this he didn't pay enough attention to cultural factors he didn't pay enough attention to how family how religion how legal structures because Marx thought that and I'm getting off Wait I'm going too deep before I give the definition but basically what we're living with right now is this idea this radical identitarian ism which is what you say, what you say what you feel within you, that's the only voice You have to listen to and everyone has to honor it. If I were if I were to put it in a in an in a nutshell you know, your your identity is what's most important and everyone has to honor that and and change their language around you perhaps. And you know, every religion does have it is really about an identity transplant and what Christianity is all about taking on someone else's name and living your life as if you were them that that is you know, that person in Christianity as Jesus Christ is supposed to live your life as though you were him just to do what he would do. What would Jesus do the bumper sticker, it is an identity transplant. You know in my particular denomination of Christianity when you get baptized you take upon yourself the name of Christ, you know, you pray in the name of your ID is about identity. It's about identity. So I don't want to disparage the the concept of identity. The question is, what identity are you trying to take upon yourself? And if it's your own, the one that that what what is what is calling out of you? Well, it doesn't make for a very cohesive society. Because if there's not a uniform, if you have to honor them all mean that that's the question, can you honor them all?
So many differences in such uniqueness? Because initially, and I'm, I'm all about sovereignty, and autonomy, and in the strength of the individual and family, but ultimately, that won't work in a society.
Well, you know, the, the interesting thing about sovereignty, because is that sovereignty is not individual sovereignty is not universal, isn't the right word, it is not, is not limitless. The concept of individual sovereignty is not without bounds without boundaries, where does the and this is where you have to go down the stack is like, Well, where did this idea of, of, in fact, sovereignty, individual sovereignty is what gives rise to human rights. So you got to you got to pass through human rights and get to this idea of human of human sovereignty? Where does it come from? Well, in the, as far as I can tell, it comes, you know, Locke, for example, Aquinas, they talked about it, it's because you are made in the image of the divine creator, you have autonomy over yourself, as you seek to do His will. It's not as you do whatever you want, we have to do what he wants you, each of us has to do it. So you're, you're autonomous and have sovereignty towards a specific aim, not towards whatever aim you want,
kind of noble aim or moral high ground,
it's very constricted, it's very constrained. It's much like jet fuel, or rocket fuel. If you just like rocket fuel, it will make an enormous explosion, it won't take you anywhere and probably do a great deal of damage. But if you constrain it, within a specific structure called a rocket, it will take you places and individual sovereignty, individual will is very much like that. It's it's within certain bounds. And what are the bounds, that's the software, that's the moral layer. And we've been trying to figure that out for generation upon generation.
This is so fun to hear you articulate this because Rachel and I've been really deeply discussing this. For those of you listening who don't know, Rachel's my wife, and we're taking our family to Norway, in December, so we've been studying Norwegian history. And she's been simultaneously reading this book called The book that made your world and it's a media guy referencing the Bible, and how the Bible brought in the worth of the individual and how a lot of the frameworks are lost. So that was the moral code that brought in this framework where we see over and a lot of the Norwegian history it was just the rating every summer they went on rates and they just kill whoever wherever to take their stuff. Like no qualms no problems, but fighting and everything was faded. It was just complete fate. It was just like if you die at stake if this happens is totally fake. If I beat you It's fate if I lose its fate, like there's there was no it was just a different moral code. Right? So So it's fascinating to dig through all this stuff. But I think this is a good transition here. Let's dive into ethics and happiness. And what Aristotle was saying on that and like so so then if the ultimate goal like he's saying is happiness How does that fit into the individual the family the society? Let's let's dive into that. Yeah, absolutely.
So he starts out and this is a difficult read ethics is a difficult read it's it's it's almost like rich chocolate you have to like take little bites because it's just so dense and it makes you really think and that's what it that's what a classic is the man was a genius and ethics is just one of several books that he wrote I mean, here's I think these are I think I've got right here the for those who are you know, happy to be seeing there's like two books this thick of tiny print you know, tiny margins like this guy was riding with I don't even know what kind of utensil 2300 years ago habits like we're so lucky to have them and have his writings. But he started out asking the question, he said, You know what, every, if you think about it, everything we do aims at some good everything. And often we do that, that it aims it, there's a good on top of that one. So you do this, like you buy a tool, not just to have the tool, but you can build something with that tool. So the tool itself is a good but it's not the ultimate good dealt the good on top of that good was whatever you're building, but you didn't just build that building. That's not the ultimate good either. You built that building, maybe it's a house so you can your family can reside in it and you can have time with your family inside that house. But even that's not necessarily the highest because like this, like, is there like an infinite regress? Does this just go on forever? Or is there like an ultimate thing that we're all aiming towards? And he says there is there is there, I think it is, I think there is an it's called happiness. That's what we're all aiming for. That is the end of man, that is what we're all that is the ultimate achievement is happiness. And so he writes this huge book on on happiness, like what, you know, what is this thing? And what are the impediments to it, and what has worked and what hasn't? And, you know, let's figure this thing out. So, one of the first things that he talks about, he says, character, characters necessary for happiness. Happiness is, is a pursuit of virtue, not pleasure. It's a pursuit of virtue. That's, you know, he talks about the people that try to pursue just pleasure, it's like not, they don't end up happy. The ones who end up happier the ones who pursue virtue, it's like, well, what's the virtue of virtue? It's this really hard thing, it's, it's this right way to act, in the right amount, toward the right people, at the right time, for the right length all the time forever. You know, it's like, it's like a really, really hard, but that's what virtue is. And, and it's almost like this, this needle, if it was if this needle was pointing out, if you're like, on a dashboard, and you had this needle pointing straight up as like, your TrueNorth, that you're acting in the right way, it's so easy to act in the wrong way a little bit to the, to the left, or to the right, meaning you did too much of it, or you did too little of it. And as parents, we can see this in parenting, it's like there's a, there's a right way to handle a given situation with a child. But there's also there's a whole, you know, shades of gray on both sides of doing too little or too much, you can be overbearing, or you can be coddling, you know? And so he goes through and he names like a bunch of a dozen, at least virtues. And he says there's there's an excess and a deficiency of each and explores them. This is like courage, for example, courage, this is what courage is and explains courage. And he says, but you can have too much courage, you can be rash, you could be you could you could charge the enemy, when there really is no way to be to defeat the enemy through that charge, and just end up killing yourself in your men, for example, that would be rashness, it's possible to be have an excess of courage. But it's also possible to have a deficiency of courage where you're cowardly. And you're you don't exhibit enough courage and it goes through. Like I said, a dozen or more of these, and it explores any agonize over them. And any gives examples of history where people did it right and where people did it wrong. And he says, You've got to pursue virtue, and this is a lifelong pursuit. It is. It's a it's a lifelong pursuit of building character, character is making habit out of virtue, so that it becomes more and more automatic. Because until it's automatic, you have to work at it. And it's difficult in the extreme those that's one of my favorite phrases from Aristotle is difficult in the extreme is this something you have to be working out your entire life, character through the exercise of virtue is what he talks about. It requires action, it choices is essential, you have to have the ability to choose. So there's a freedom element, you've got to act, it's not good enough to just think about it. What but he does talk about thinking quite a bit. How contemplation is, is this is one of the highest activities you contemplate how should you act? How should you be? So you've got virtue. So he's building this recipe, right? This this stack of what do you got to do to get to happiness, he's got character in there through virtue, over lifelong pursuit, you've got actions that you're taking to build that virtue, you've you're making choices, your motive in your tent, totally matter. You can't do things for the wrong reason. So the right of do the right thing and the right amount for the right reasons with the right person or for the right amounts, like oh, my gosh, are you serious? Like yes. And that's why we live for more than just two weeks, like some bugs and animals we have lived for decades, we can figure this out. You have to deliberate. You have to agonize, and he says, How do we figure this out? And he says, and this is one of my things I love the most about Aristotle, he says, you know, there is this thing, there's this thing in every human being I, I run across it, and every person that I that I talk to, I call it reason there's like this voice inside of us. And I think it's divine, he says or or it's at least the most divine thing in us. But this voice says the same thing to pretty much every human being and tell them what the right action is, or at least tells them what the wrong action is. And if you listen and cultivate that voice, that's what tells you what the virtuous action is. That's how you know it. Actually, it's it's within us. But it's got to be external to us because it exists in all of us. So I don't know, I don't I don't know what you call it. He calls it reason. Some people might call it conscience. But it's this there's this voice and so you have to cultivate that voice. He says, The voice can be silenced. You can you can act against the voice and you will silence the voice. So this the hello so there's a positive spiral and a negative spiral where if you listen have that voice and act consistently with it and work on virtue and character, the voice will continue to guide you. But if you go in the opposite direction, the voice will be overpowered, and you won't be able to hear it anymore. And that's a terrible thing to contemplate, because then man becomes a beast. And he's got some great quotes about how men can be beasts. And men can be beasts or they can be angels. And again, that's Viktor Frankl, Viktor Frankl, 2000, laters, channeling Aristotle, you know, he's got the, you got the beast in the angel within us. Okay, so you got happiness is like building these, this the stairway to happiness, you've got characters developed to through virtue, which is you know, you have to act. In order to act, you have to have choice, your choices have to be properly motivated, you have to deliberate, you have to listen to reason. And if you do that, you will achieve, you'll achieve happiness. But that's not even even that's not all. He says, there's actually there's this concept of a complete life, which happiness is a component of happiness, the word we're looking for, but, but the complete life is because you can have someone who's, who's doing all that this, but they still live in poverty. And so he said, there's actually four components. So you've got to have happiness, you have to have wisdom. Now, let's see, wisdom, which is wisdom is knowledge of things that don't change. He's saying, there's things that don't change, and you've got to know them. And he says, You've got to have judgment, which is knowledge of things which do change. So you've got to be able to judge between things that do change, and bob and weave, and you've got to have both those. And then he says, You have to have, and this was the biggest surprise to me was property. You can't subsist without property. And you can't be generous and magnanimous, which are two of the virtues, which means you're giving you're giving you know, if you don't if you're not super wealthy, you're just generous means you're you're giving within your your what you can, within the within your circle of influence. But if you're wealthy, you have to be magnanimous, you have to give greatly. And that's a virtue. And so property is an essential, is essential to happiness, as his wisdom, as his judgment as his virtue quired through action, choice, deliberation, and listening to reason, or that voice that lives within all of us. And he says, As you do this, by the way, the greatest of all virtues is justice. Because you're acting, you're making sure that right action is done to everyone around you, not just yourself, that you're ensuring that that happens at a societal level, justice, the right action to the right people in the right amount, the right time for the right reasons. That's justice. That's what justice is in his, which has a different definition. By the way, hopping back to a prior conversation in radical individualism or identity. Marxism was justice or social justice has a very different definition. So if know what definitions you're talking about, words matter. So okay, going back to Aristotle, he said, justice, that's what you're aiming for, on a societal level, happiness is what you're aiming for, at an individual level, here's the recipe to get there. And by the way, pleasure, pleasures great, just make sure it works within this framework. And by the way, one of the greatest pleasures are going to have you within the exact within the boundaries, it here's let me build the rocket ship for you. Your fuel is your own willpower, your energy, your ambition, channel it property properly, and it'll take you to the right place, it'll take you to the stars.
Another interesting observation he made is that one of the greatest sources of pleasure you can have in life is friendship, friendships, a virtue, not friendships of utility and pleasure, all those those aren't necessarily bad, but the highest form of friendship or friendships of virtue, people who that that you actually get pleasure and delight and fulfillment from these relationships with other people who are on that same path, operating within the same constraints. And then he says, and by the way, that's how you build cities, people who are people who are operating, magnanimously generously working towards virtue, and they have these friendships, and are seeking to instill justice within their communities. They're the one they're the, they're this and they're the fabric that creates virtuous cities
These are the friends you want. That's the community you want. That's the kind of, well you want to build a society with. And, and I would say, that's the only kind of people that will actually sustain a society that will that will last because you let any of that erode and things start to just unravel. And you've been describing what he's talking about here with wisdom and happiness and justice and property. And I'm sure that listeners have heard this too. You're picking up bits and pieces all over of these, these voices that are contrary to all of this right now. And they're out there and there's a lot of them moving away from property. I keep hearing that there's, there's places around the world that were just like, Hey, you don't need to own anything. We'll own it all for you. You don't have to have the burden alone. worship and they're moving away from property and others from away from wisdom or the judgment or, and then then just individualism and relativism. So there's a lot of voices right now a lot of messages coming in, in contradiction to a lot of this.
You know, I was listening to a podcast with Ben Shapiro, he's a conservative commentator, really big in the United States. But he did a piece I think it was yesterday or today where he he read online a an article written by a young lady while she's, she's now 43 not so young anymore. Wish I could remember her name, Bridget, I think is her name. But she said like I regret being a slut was the name of this article, she had been very promiscuous. She was raised in a very conservative Catholic background, rejected that believed that it repressed her sexuality, and then went and just gave herself to whoever whenever. And it's it's moving, beautiful piece, how she has now come full circle and said, I don't think I don't think my Catholic upbringing did it right. But boy did my own search for happiness, through sexual promiscuity. It did not bring happiness, it brought misery and she just she walks through all these different all these different ways that it made her miserable and how she feels about it. Now she's on her second marriage, she has a child and she's she's she's on a different path towards happiness. And you know, the question, and I highly recommend it to your readers to go to go search that out. But my, you know, the the question is, are we going to learn those lessons, because she's like, I'm going to teach my kid, I'm going to teach my kid but I didn't get taught, I'm going to teach, I'm gonna try to improve. I'm going to try to iterate she didn't say this Doctor Strange, wise. But in when it comes to my child's sexuality, I'm going to try to iterate and do better, you know, I rejected, you know, what was given to me. But you know, maybe they didn't get it perfectly right. But the way I went and tried to do it was was far worse. So the question is, are we going to learn this stuff from books? Are we going to learn it ourselves in our own lives and in our 40s, and 50s and 60s, say, oops, you young uns list, you young whippersnappers. Listen to me, because you know, I know better. He's like, that's, that is, that's why education is so so critical. Because we are all born and think we're like, you know, this beautiful, wide world. And I've got all these voices speaking inside of me, you have one of which one of them is reason? That's not the only reason that's not the only voice. And sometimes there's louder voices within me right, especially during puberty. And so it's like, what voices are we going to listen to? And if we don't study, what the voice that those lessons of the past, we get to learn them? Through the experience of life, we get to get the degree of the University of hard knocks, which is life itself.
can be so miserable
can be yes, yeah. Oh, challenge is so difficult. And I get to work with individuals and families literally every single day. And I've had the privilege of working with 1000s and 1000s, and 1000s of people across five continents and dozens and dozens of countries. It's a privilege of mine, that people reach out to me, and I get to help them but many of them are in in that those depths of misery. And I get to see the pain and the suffering from choices. And they tell me those experiences, right. And as a young man, my parents made decisions and stepdads came and went, I ended up out on my own, I had some years of hard, lonely misery. And I was I was living in these broken places, you know, these rundown, horrible communities, and then seeing the suffering and the pain that's just perpetual, there, and being right there on it in it and surrounded by it. And I just feel like shouting from the rooftops. If there was like, Hey, don't make those choices. That just hurts. That stuff is so it's so painful. And then to hear you talk about I've got this. I've got ethics, right here and on my on my desk I'm working through, and I just got them beautiful, leather bound copy of politics and poetics from him as well. But hearing you explain that, I think this, this, this is a book. There's so many great books in the world. But this is a book we all ought to be contemplating. And consuming a little bit, maybe even on a daily or weekly basis, just chewing on those few things you outlined so well. That's the essence of life and striving to live a good life. And And I'm reminded of the quote by it's in it's in Moby Dick Melville says that we're surrounded often like little island in the Pacific, surrounded by all the horrors of a half lived life. Instead of living a whole life a full, complete life. Meet you when you lack meaning your life is just empty.
Yeah, I'm reminded of Anna Karenina, Tolstoy. He's like opening a lot Finding that that great book is happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. There are innumerable ways to get it wrong, you know. But that constraint, there's like one way to get it right now doesn't mean it looks like every family looks the same. Because acting the right way towards the right people in the right amount for the right amount of time, for the right reasons, has wonderful variety and diversity on an individual and PERT and familial and societal, you know, foods and music and traditions are so rich and wonderful. It's not about uniformity. It's not about conformity to, to, like everyone has to be like Gary, or like, Greg, but there is a voice that tells tell you how you have to be like, and it's going to be, you know, whatever virtue looks like. So every fan happy families is alike and every unhappy family is, is unlikely there. There's so many ways to get to get it wrong. So are we going to try to figure it out from scratch? Are we going to go to Dr. Strange and say, Can I read all the million ways that it got wrong? You know, I know you said you got politics. I disagree with a lot of what Aristotle said in politics, he was doing the best that he could. He was saying, here's all the different ways it's been tried. I think this is what we've got to do. But I see the seeds of totalitarianism and authoritarianism in his politics, because he was like, we've got to parent this way. And we've got to, it's like, I'm gonna, so it's like, okay, you're gonna mandate that. So you've got the power to mandate can that ever go wrong? And that, yes, it can. And it did. And it has and that's where the founders said that power. It's the one ring man it's the one ring from Tolkien you know, with, you know, with this but with this ring, I would hope do great good but through me it would work great evil, you know, that's power is the one ring, you can't concentrate it and and Aristotle was toying with concentrating power to try to do good. And what the founders after two more 1000 years of trying, said, now you've got to you can't you can't concentrate power, you have to distribute it, at the most you the closest level possible to the people who need it, this tiny bit of the top, you know, you've got to separate it horizontally, vertically auxiliary precautions, checks and balances like ah, like this crazy. Matrix latticework of divide power. Because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely human nature, they recognize the suck the hardware, power doesn't do good on running and running on our system. It does terrible every human beings who is immune from the effects of power. So, you know, as far as you know, reading, you know, politics, read it, and then compare it to the founding and what lessons they learned, you know,
you stack. That's why you have to read so many books, and read, you know, read politics, knowing that it influenced other thinkers, and then read the other thinkers and then read the outcomes all through that is so beautiful. I have a kind of a curiosity, and I know what comes up? How do we, how do we keep from consuming just one side or the other? Or getting in an echo chamber? Sometimes we'll get we'll get sucked into listening to one side. And you know, in the United States, we talked about the right and the left, or the conservatives or liberals like how do you approach that what's, what do you feel like is in your perspective is a good way to not just get stuck in one echo chamber or the other, or to just grab hold of one concept or group because we like to do that we like to fit in we'd like to belong? And and if they, you know, the majority here, but then we start, we start out? Well, they're the enemy. And what it doesn't matter what they say, even if it's it's reasonable and logical. And actually, they're on they're on the other camp? How do we how do we stay hold?
We have to purposely intentionally enter what's called the great conversation. Yes. The great conversation is a book here on my shelf as part of the the great book series right here back here, you know, and the idea is that this question of human flourishing and happiness has been going on for 1000s of years. And I'm open to Aristotle being wrong. I'm open to the founders being wrong. But let's have that conversation. Let's have that debate. And so what these like, if you look at the great book series, which is some people are listening, just go look up great books, you know, bring Britannica great book series. There's like 52 volumes or something like that. And it's basically the it's, it's the consolidation of the greatest minds and thinkers at trying to wrestle over these and other questions of human existence. And so we have to
be similar. It's similar to the Harvard classics and sets like that, isn't it?
Yes, I've got both of those. The Harvard classics is another set. So you've got the Britannica great books. There is some crossover, but not as much as you would think the Harvard classics as I recall are more about literature. than they are about philosophy more like, which of course, literature often is a source of philosophy. But the great book series is more of a philosophical treatise on, right, wrong economics moral, political, whereas Harvard gets you more into essays and fiction. And, you know, some of which is, you know, explores these very questions. Like, for example, Pilgrims Progress, you know, is explores Christianity and and the software that runs with Christianity as software that runs on the human nature hardware platform. You know, you've got about the pill in progress. Yeah. So So yeah, there's, I mean, I'm like, like this far in a huge list of books, but great books is is a place where that would that conversation takes place? And so that's the answer. That's the answer for me to your question,
because I know there's a lot of people. When I heard about this years and years ago, I'm like, What are they talking about? But getting in the great debate, or the great conversation is, is jumping into, really via books? This conversation has been going on for a very long time of like, how do we do live? Life. And so the way to keep yourself from being sucked away into little rabbit holes or whatever or missing things, is going to go ahead and read it all across genres, and really think through it all? And get get into these deep classics? I have to ask you a question. Because I'm interested in your opinion. Again, this week, somebody we suggested a list, like the great books are set. And they're just like, oh, and it was a very well comment of like, well, that's just just more stuff from white men. Right? Like, ah, like, okay, yes, a lot of those books are written by white men. You're right. But like, these are some of the greatest thinkers of all time, like I mentioned in your, in your perspective, a response to that, like, because this, this individual, again, it came from a pretty good place that like, we need to read outside of that, because there's just more white men telling us what they think.
Yeah, that's Oh, that's a that's a whole nother conversation, isn't it? Isn't it? Isn't it amazing that we can categorize we can categorize an entire it's interesting that we this this religion of radical individualism, groups, people wide swaths of people and and labels them, like white people. Okay, so you're telling me someone who from ancient Greece 2300 years ago, Greece, not not Europe, but Greece, 2300 years ago, who lived a life completely different than any white person in the last 1000 years, you're going to put him in the same category as Jefferson or Gary is still a white male, though, as though we're so homogenous, it's like men, it's life is far more complex, and sophisticated and beautiful, then, I mean, how many how many colors are in your palette? 16? You know, no, there's millions of colors in the palette, and millions of ideas. So this is about ideas, not people, that's actually racist, to, to reject something and sexist to reject something basic, based on someone's skin color. It's actually in fact, you know, that's the racism words are now changing underneath our feet. You know, racism is a word that has changed in, in, in racism 2.0, what's called anti racism is you cannot be racist towards white people. You cannot be sexist towards heterosexual male white people. They are the enemy. They are who has, you know, they're responsible for all misery of mankind. And so that's, that's a whole nother interesting. Religious, that's an article of faith. By the way, it's an article of faith of that religion, that you can reject someone based on their skin color, their sexuality, their ancestry, that's an article of faith. I reject that article of faith. I've investigated that religion, I chose not to get baptized in it, I've chosen to stay with others that I have investigated as well. But it is a religion, it's a mode of being a mode of belief. And the the point of reading these books is the the idea is these are arguably, you don't have to read every REIT, you don't have to read everything that's ever been written. These are just considered the best. These are the most clearly articulated, like okay, go read them and see if you can find what's wrong. I mean, there's books in there that I disagree with. There's marks he's, he's part of the great debate. He, he and and others Freud is in there as well. They're part of the great that the great conversation is not saying this is the only way. It's simply saying, here's the greatest articulations of different viewpoints are
Yeah, and there's your classics and should be read like even though we may not agree with them, or they might be like, Hey, this isn't something we want. coorporate still a great classic, and we have to be understand what's going on.
Yeah, they don't agree with each other. Right? They don't agree with each other that I mean, anyone who says I'm gonna reject them, because they're, they're a tradition that I rejects, like, don't understand they are often vehemently opposed to one another. But they're the ideas that have had the greatest impact on the world that people have believed with greatest ferocity have built their whole lives built their whole civilizations, multigenerational. So they had great impact on people, they were very believable to those people. They're being believed now by different groups of people. You can start from scratch, if you want to, you can go to Dr. Strange and say, I'm going to start at level one. But that's that's that's a that's not a very intelligent way. Yeah, exactly. Very intelligent way to go about it. Wow, I'm gonna, I'm gonna reinvent math. I'm going to reinvent language. I'm going to reinvent geometry. I'm going to reinvent built bridge building and our agriculture and architectures like really, that's that's the way you want to go about life is start over from with caveman every segment and no, we in fact, it's it's it's a sign of extreme privilege to even be able to have those questions. Have those you know, to even scoff is a sign of extreme privilege. Because as you drive your car on the road, having eaten the food, you know, where all of this was created by this great conversation, which you can disagree with, but let's disagree. And let's get granular and that's that's really wrestle. You can't just dismiss out of hand without dismissing out of hand all the fruits.
Yeah. Amazing. And, and what, what inevitably comes to mind, because it impacted me so profoundly, is Schultz and he says, the Gulag Archipelago, and how wrong so, so far wrong, some of these ideologies and philosophies went to just millions and 10s of millions of people just being tortured and killed. At as the end result of a lot of these ideas, right? Yeah. So out of hand, it just was an absolute disaster.
Yeah, absolutely. It was taking place, my mother is still alive. And that was happening in her lifetime, when she was a child.
It was happening in my life, you know, that the the Cultural Revolution in China, you know, 100 million people killed families turning on one another, horrible, horrible, within my lifetime, you know, it's, again, these things are not in the past, they live, they live within each one of us that that line still is drawn through every human heart. So we have to read, there's two ways to learn it. Either we learn from those who have, and I'm not saying they were the question, it's not a matter of where are they? Right? The question is, are you going to try to learn from them? Are you going to go at it alone? And would you do that with any other with the ideas of morality, politics, economics, and social structure? Are you going to try to build it from scratch? Or are you going to go and learn? It's like, it's like an architecture major, going to college and saying, I'm not going to go to college, I'm not going to learn best practices. I'm not going to learn industry standards. I'm gonna start with these twigs that I pulled off of a tree, and I'm gonna figure it out on my own. Do you really want to do that with morality with, but we feel freedom, we feel uninhibited, we feel like, if I could just cast off the shackles of the rocket, I could explode in whatever direction I want to. And we do
brand new building anyway, I want Why do I have to follow these engineering? Principles? So restrictive? Yes. There's so let's let me ask them, though, because the listeners have got to be asking like, Okay, how in the world we have businesses, we have families, we have projects, hobbies. How do you fit in time to learn? Gary? How, like, let's get down to some logistics here. Yeah. What's a day in the life of a week in the life of how are you how are you consuming? This stuff?
That's a really good question. It's one I've wrestled with, because I believe it's essential and I believe we've almost entirely lost it the vast majority of people in my culture in my part of the world, in my country, do not do this. And we have left. We have left the the guard towers, we have left the gates, we are no longer watching them to make sure that no, you know, poor philosophy enters in and corrupts and break down our buildings. We're not watching anymore. We're not studying it. You know, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We're not vigilant. We are and we have been trained to be possibly involved in our family. That's that's also been, you know, now in dispute, very much involved in a career of some sort. That's that's, that's a big one. Although we do see that cracking even in some places now, where people say no college is no longer necessary, you know, which, you know, that's that's a whole argument against whole discussion we can get into because there are good arguments against that. But how do you find the time you have to make the time and you have to choose it, this is my, this is my concern with social media, with tick tock reels with Instagram reels of Facebook was you can get on there and it can just suck you in. It's like, it's like, you know, Harry Potter with those, those breathers that you know, those, whatever they call those black ghost like things that would just suck the life out of you. There are things in our society that suck your time. And you look at any one of them individually, and they're humorous, they're interesting, they're even maybe, you know, minorly educational, but what, but what you're not considering is what are you not doing? Because you're doing that? What do you not reading? Because you're watching that movie? What do you not be? You know, if you are and I saw some, I think a show called better, Better Call Saul or something like that. It just like it was a multi SEER multi season series. And the people who watched it Oh, the ending was so profound, you know, you had to get through several seasons of not family save stuff. You know, it's like, okay, what you know, it's like, okay, that that that was a price you paid to get whatever you got out of that show, and I've not watched it, so I can't speak to it. But what did you not get? What did you not read? So you could watch that. And I'm not saying we shouldn't have wholesome recreational activity, we shouldn't have hobbies, you know, most of our interaction has been to our hobby, you know, this mutual hobby that we have. But there's got to be time set aside, which means stuff, you're not going to do other stuff. So you can sit down and it's very thankless nobody, nobody wants to discuss them with you. It's like, Hey, you want to read Aristotle? Discuss it with me?
Family, what you're doing? What?
Like, what Why would you want to?
It's not even part of our vernacular anymore. But when you read it, you start to read it. And the change is relatively slow, although I will say in the last 10 years, the rate of change to our stack, the rate of replacement of what's in that stack? No, the the it's like, you know, Jenga, where you're pushing out one layer and you're putting you could put something else in instead, the the stack, the replacement of our stack is happening at a nearly visible rate in the last five years. 10 years. It's been it's been it's been remarkable, much
Yeah. So across the whole stack, the moral political, yes, I'm gonna get social. And we're, you're watching it happen? Yes. Did you just see that, like, right in front of us? We just watched the stack change? Yes.
Yes. So that that's remarkable, because I would say that before this decade, it's been slow enough that it's the frog, you know, boiling slowly in the pot, you know, but now it's people are like, Oh, what is this, you know, their hands are getting burned, their feet are getting burned in the pot. But they don't know what to do about it. Because they they have nothing to compare it to other than 3040 years ago, when they were growing up. It's like, boy, things are different than when I was growing up. But I guess that's true of everyone. Right? Okay, I'll stay. I'll stay in the pot. And I'll continue to let the water boil, you know, but the it's when you read these things that you start to realize, wait a second, I can compare that to Federalist 10. And I believe Federalist 10. I think he's right. And this violates that without providing a better explanation without refuting Federalist 10. And that's, that, to me is a great conversation. I'm open, bring more Bring it on. I have read more about Wolk ism, CRT antiracism, all of that in the last two years than probably any other topic which maybe isn't good for my soul. But it's, but I've wanted to understand them. I've wanted to understand Marcuse I wanted to understand Foucault, I wanted to understand Derrida, I want to understand Crenshaw, I want to understand Gramsci, I want to understand what's happening to my society. I want to understand the world that my children are growing up in. And they they just like overnight, success happens in 40 years, but people to start to notice it. The roots of what's happening in our society didn't start five years ago, 10 years ago, they started 100 200 300 years ago, you know, but they are manifesting you know, with with technology now, it's, it's so much easier to spread and broadcast and share memes that call into question the entire race of Western civilization and mock it and make it look, make it look wrong. But if you don't have if you haven't read the books, you can't see the flaw in the meme in the in the argument, that single snarky comment, you know, it's like, you know, the idea that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on, you know, that's, that's the boots on are these books. Now that the lie sounds so good because it appeals to a certain half of that dividing line. In that Viktor Frankl talked about, it speaks to certain inclinations within our hearts, or even speaks to, to legitimate good into like diversity, equity inclusion, there is a liberal meaning to those words, there's a Liberal way to implement them. And then there's an illiberal way to implement them. Marxism and Stalinism, Leninism all sought to achieve equity equality, through specific means. And they were disastrous and murderous as a result. So you the words, or the definition of words are changing underneath someone, someone said, we're using the same words but a different dictionary. And so people get caught off guard because they think oh, yeah, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice. And but they don't understand that's a different definition now being used.
Yes, well, and that most virtues at some point become a vice. The virtue of compassion,
every virtue becomes a vice it is that's Aristotle exact, Aristotle says there's an exact way to do it. Anything to the right or the left is a vise and that's what he called me call them vices and their excesses or deficiencies. Every virtue has 1000 ways to be a vise, there's only one right way to for it to be virtuous. You know, equality. Equality is another you know, let's look at the word equality for example, equality, that word, under classic liberalism means equality under the law, you can't kill someone, you can't take their stuff, rich or poor, everyone is subject to the same laws. Equality under progressivism, or progressive liberalism is equality of opportunity, which means we can take from other people, well, if it's for the purpose of equalizing their opportunity, which sounds wonderful, sounds wonderful. We as long as we're equalizing their their health, as long as we're equalizing their education, as long as we're equalizing their housing, we've got to give everyone an equal starting point and we can use coercive force to do so, that is equality, under progressivism. Now equality under identity Marxism or radical identitarian ism is equality of outcome, we all have to end up in the same place, it's not just good enough to start in the same place, we have to end up in the same place. And so now we're going to try to through coercive, coercive force, right? All of history's in justices, let's do reparations, let's give take money from people who never had slaves and give it to people who never were slaves. We've got to write all the wrongs of the past, there is no, there is no Jesus who's going to write all the wrongs of the past. That's our job, for example, and so we've got to use the law the coercive power of the state to write all wrongs and equality means equality of outcome. So even the word equality changes depending on which religion or philosophy you're coming from. And you have to discuss and you know, I, you have to, you have to understand the differences and the possible chinks in the armor of each.
This is, this is so I love this stuff. This is exactly what I'm gonna have you on. Because I love I love hearing from you. Thank you for the price you've paid to learn this stuff and your passion and desire to, to share it. What do you see coming in the next few years? Just with, with the, with what you've studied, and what you see happening so rapidly now. And, and interestingly, not just in one society, but it's having a global impact. What do you see in the next few years?
You know, depends on where you're talking in the world, of course, I'll speak to and you might have some, you know, observations of the places you've lived, I'll speak for the United States. Fortunately, there is still power in the people, people can make a difference. One of the analogies I like to use is that of a watertight ship, you know, once upon a time, the hull of a ship, you got one hole in it, and the whole thing would flood so they decided no, we're gonna put watertight doors in our in our hole, so that if a torpedo or a log or whatever, Pierce is one part of our hole, it doesn't flood the entire the entire ship. The separation of powers doctrine that the founders of our country created, creates a honeycomb of power separation of watertight doors within the ship of state, the ship of the American state. So that if you have a bad president, or you have a bad Alabama, or you have a bad judiciary, or you have a bad like they actually built it with the intent that Ooh, if we get the worst people into all of the offices, you can, it gives people the People that time to recognize what's going on and get them out because there's only so much they can do because all the separations of power, what we have been systematically doing, do you think that's still intact? They're not. That's the problem under progressivism. They've started to and start to open the watertight doors between the powers, because they wanted to do good. And they needed to have so the exact you got executive branches or not branches, you got executive administrative, you know, ABC, like Department of Education, FBI, where they are, they are executor, legislator and judiciary all in one. It's the separation of powers is lost. Yeah, you've got tax courts run within the IRS infrastructures like where's the separation? Is this it's the same people being paid by the same paycheck? Where's the separation? So separating? You know, there's so much that was supposed to be handled at the state level that is now handled at the federal level. So the separations of power have been greatly damaged it, it makes change so much more difficult. But it is still possible, there are still enough of them, that if enough people were to learn and decide, do I see the flaws in the current while we're trying to do things, it could still be fixed. But that, to me, is the question. It's like, there, it's still possible. If enough people study learn band together, work together. The question is, will they will we?
Wow, man, that was that idea. Right there. It was like his historically,we haven't done it.
Optimism for people getting education. I mean,
you know, maybe I know we're coming up on our time and maybe I'll close with this this analogy of the story. You've probably heard hanging by a thread or constitutions hanging by a thread or you know things like you know, hanging by a thread that's that's a saying and it originates with Damocles the story of Damocles which back in Greece he was a very he was a young upstart wanted power wanted authority wanted to rule and so I think was Dinesen I might get the story wrong, but diabetes said come here Damocles. Let me invite you to this, this grand feast that were that basically embodies the life that you want to live of, of wealth of honor, prestige of ruling and he sat him on his throne on on his own throne. So Damocles was sitting in the throne of Dionysus and there was spared for him this beautiful banquet and you know the people all the people that he wanted to you know, you know, suck up to him and he wanted to power over all there and but suspended over the throne and over Damocles was a sword by a single thread. And he said Damocles, you can stay here and you can have all of this. But you've got this over your head. Or you can go out and you can earn it and earn it and learn the lessons that come through earning it and then habit and the the analogy is that all of us are Damocles. Sitting in that throne we have all of the abundance all the prosperity, the bridges, the airplanes, the technologies that was built by others, you know, the the throne room, you know, filled with bounteous we, that was built by others, and we want it. But we don't want to do the hard work. We want to sit on the throne. Without having done the hard work. We have to go do the hard work that were hard work has to be done by every every generation. We have to understand what this thing of happiness is Aristotle wrong he did he get it wrong, you get the idea of justice wrong to get the idea of character wrong, you get the idea of pleasure wrong to get the idea of happiness wrong of justice of reason, did Cicero who built on Aristotle and then espoused or talked about true law on what true law is that there's this law outside of humans, that we that that human law has to has to be aligned with this true law that exists outside of humans, just like gravity is a law that exists outside of humans. There's a law of human there's, there are laws that govern the affairs of man that exist outside of man. And if you pass a law that's contrary to it, that law is not valid. That was, you know, that was, I think, was Cicero. Was he wrong about that? Can we just make whatever laws we want? Or can I? Or is the Declaration of Independence, right, which says, if your love by elites, true law, I, as a sovereign individual, have the right to overthrow institute new governments for my safety and protection? That's the whole deal. So even the thing that we started talking about the whole idea of the Declaration of Independence, that there are inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Where did Jefferson really Franklin probably because Jefferson put in property, life, liberty and property. Where did property come from? Aristotle, one of the things that you know, four elements of a complete life, but the only one of the four that government could really ensure government can insure What happened is a canister was done a canister Jasmine, but it can protect property. So that's a Jefferson said, but then I think it was Franklin came along, they're not sure. But he said, don't start don't put property do do the highest good, which is the pursuit of happiness. That's what is our inalienable right. And that comes from Aristotle, you know, in in no way but if you go ask people what is happiness, they're not going to talk about virtue, they're not going to talk about character, they're gonna say, well, for you, it might be golfing. And for you it might be gardening and for you, it might be like, No, you got to understand, you know, gardening and golfing might be an element to it, but it's not the primary structure.
This is awesome, man. I love all this stuff. Okay, where where can they get more from you? Tell us about your, your podcast, your blog, where
Thank you culture, culture, stack dot online, is where I use, you know, infrequently, but I tried to put it out there. So culture stack on dot online, is my blog. And you can you can look up culture stack on Spotify, on Apple podcasts and other you know, other sources anchor, they've got a few out there. But for the most part, I'm a dad, I'm a father, I'm trying to make a living and trying to run a school is what I do during the day. And so it's like, trying to, you know, eat away at understanding. And of course, articulating takes forever trying to write, you know, something that, you know, I feel it's cohesive, but that's where I do it. So thanks for asking.
Yeah, it's so cool. You're, you're a great example of this product. I have a lot of respect and admiration for you, of doing all those things. And yet still making this an important priority in your life, to understand and share these things. And I think that that's modeling for us exactly what we all need to be striving to do. But let's understand this. Let's do our part. And let's be great man.
And I will say there are there are phases of life. You know, when you're a newlywed with little kids in school, trying to learn your trade, that might not be the time that you're going to be digging into Aristotle and stuff like that. But as soon as you have some free time, which by the way, leisure used to mean the word leisure comes from the word school, they used to spend their leisure time learning those who at least your time spent learning, we've turned leisure into something very different. So I do want to I want people to not feel bad, like, oh, but I'm in the middle of this with my life's like there are times and seasons. There was a time in season where I was not doing this. I have four of my kids are out of the house. I've just got to I have more leisure time. And that's one of the ways I choose to spend it. And I invite others to do the same.
Yeah. And like you said earlier, I think I think many of us can trade some of our entertainment for education. And yes, make a world difference in our lives.
Yes, awesome. our children and our grandchildren deserve it.
Yes, exactly. Do it for the grandkids. Awesome. Thanks, Gary. Appreciate
Hey, it's been a pleasure. Thanks so much.